I’ve been having a love affair the last several weeks with Blank Dogs and have been too slammed at the station work to be able to pass along some thoughts. Blank Dogs are Mike Sniper, who enveloped the project in blog buzz secrecy and emerged from the mist with adroit timing.
Sniper hasn’t created something new under the sun, but he has warped several underground sounds into something perverse and beautiful. Each song from the Blank Dogs’ debut Under and Under begins with vaguely familiar electronica that seems to disguise a refound New Wave classic. A few bars in, though, the distorted lyrics and industrial, surf, and goth influence spin the familiarity into something both awful and irresistable.
Standouts, if that isn’t some kind of malappropriation for this kind of discordance, are “Setting Fire to Your Room” with a catchy refrain breaking through the fuzzed-out fog. It’s followed by a wickedly dissonant riff on “Around the Room” and then a snappy REM jangle in “The New Things.” Also “Falling Back” with it’s light-hearted…Did I just type that?…pipe organ hook. A ton of influences mashed together with real elegance. Trust me the whole is greater than the parts.
May I just mention you can dance to almost every one of these.
Sniper pulled quite a bit of backup help from the Brooklyn scene which he now owns for a season. Crystal Stilts and Vivian Girls guest. One of just a few dates the deliberately cagey Blank Dogs have played include those not dissimilar bands plus Dum Dum Girls. You get the idea. Under and Under is a bit of a challenging listen that is sure to make my Top 10 this year.
Yeah, you can dance to this record, something you couldn’t do to any of his previous stuff. Under the Under totally reminds me of New Order’s Movement. That’s a good thing.
I can’t imagine it comes out of the speakers as dancey when they play live. I’m sure you get more noise and not much of the nuance from the production. But what a nice trick he pulled off.